Business-integration software-company webMethods Inc. and global integration services provider Global eXchange Services today detailed a partnership through which the two companies will develop, market, and resell end-to-end business-integration software--a move that analysts say could drive down the cost of information exchange.
The companies hope to help customers better reach their vendors and trading partners. WebMethods will combine its suite of business-integration software, Fabric, with the GXS Trading Grid, a global service platform that serves more than 30,000 customers worldwide and allows collaboration and information sharing between organizations and external trading partners.
GXS will leverage the webMethods Smart Services software to deploy new intelligence and application services, such as business-activity monitoring and collaborative forecasting, to Trading Grid customers. GXS also will include webMethods-based hosting options in its managed-services portfolio. Additionally, webMethods will integrate GXS's Product Information Manager into its Fabric software and will make it available to webMethods customers; webMethods also will resell GXS's Application Integrator translation engine.
"We needed to expand the range of options for our customers from just behind the firewall-type of software that they implement to gain integration globally and efficiently to integration services," says Debbie Rosen, executive VP of worldwide marketing at webMethods. "We looked at GXS because they're the leading supplier of integration services. Together, we now have a continuum of software and services."
Combining Fabric with the Trading Grid will allow customers to better manage electronic data and help them integrate it into various back-office systems, says Rory O'Neill, director of alliances at GXS. For example, rather than moving a purchase-order request electronically from the United States to a supplier in Asia, a customer will be able to use Smart Services-enabled intelligence and application services to monitor data and receive alerts about errors in the supply chain. "One of the things we're looking to bring to webMethods customers is the ability to plug into a ready-made network of global trading partners. So, webMethods customers who might be running their software in the U.S. could plug into the GXS trading grid and will be able to connect and collaborate with trading partners around the world," O'Neill says.
As the business-to-business market matures, more and more vendors will focus on strategic acquisitions of product functionality, value-added services, and other vendors to increase market share, according to Yankee Group analyst Kosin Huang. GXS's partnership with webMethods is a response to this trend. The company has expanded beyond its core business-transaction services to include nontransactional functions such as product-information management, order life-cycle visibility, logistics management, and data-analysis tools, Kosin says.
The strategic partnership between GXS and webMethods isn't just created for joint selling but also for product development and leveraging each other's capabilities, Kosin says. Such trading-partner networks allow for business processes to be optimized based on real-time information flows, which will enable companies to detect changes earlier and respond more effectively, she says.
WebMethods and GXS will be showcasing their partnership and software at this week's webMethods Integration World 2004 user conference in San Diego. "We can help companies become demand driven because what companies really want in B-to-B today is to have real-time information for their trading partners," says Bobby Patrick, senior VP and chief marketing officer at GXS. "They [customers] want information about what their partners' customers are buying so they can carry less inventory, turn around inventory faster, and make sure they don't stock out on a retail shelf."